Friday, June 26, 2009

BBC Persian

Given its importance as a media outlet in the current Iran crisis, readers might be interested in Paul Cochrane's profile of BBC Persian in the last Arab Media & Society. You should read the whole thing to see the channel's situation on the eve of the elections, but here's an interesting historical note:
"While VOA has been broadcasting Persian news and discussion programming into Iran by satellite since 1999, such forays by foreign powers into the Iranian television market are rare. The launch of BBC Persian TV comes some 69 years after the BBC Persian Radio Service went on air during World War II, when the news was firmly controlled by the propaganda department of Iran’s Ministry of Information. Ever since, the BBC has had a complex relationship with its Iranian audience, being viewed as a credible alternative to state propaganda at times and an agent of British meddling at others.

"BBC radio broadcasts were considered instrumental in turning the people against Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was forced to abdicate following the British and Russian occupation of Iran in August 1941, while the service carried out a similar function during the CIA-backed overthrow of Premier Muhammad Mossadegh in 1953. Conversely, in the lead up to the overthrow of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in February 1979, the Persian Service was accused of backing Ayatollah Khomeini when it ran interviews with the revolutionary leader and aired segments of his speeches.

"Nearly 30 years after the Islamic Revolution and just months before PTV was to launch, the BBC was again under fire."

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